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    #1

    Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    Dear teachers and members


    According to what the below sentence clearly said, It seems to me (that) it is talking about one person, and consequently, a singular reflexive pronoun must be used. I would like to know whether a singular or plural reflexive pronoun may be used.

    «Can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about themselves?»

    The person who wrote the above sentence was referring to a question a judge asked to someone who was caught we a group of persons in the borderline between United States and Mexico. The judge asked him/her:

    What the name of the Coyote who crossed you?

    He/she answered in Spanish:

    No sabemos (We don't know).

    According to the question, she was supposed to answer ''I don't know'' because the judge was referring particularly to himself/herself, not to the whole group. That's why I think ''himself or herself must be used in the bold sentence.

    I ask for your assistance and help as well in clearing out my doubt.


    *Coyote is a person who used to cross ilegal immigrant across the border.

    .
    * I forgot to pluralize the reflexive pronoun THEMSELVES in the title.

    Last edited by The apprentice; 28-Nov-2014 at 18:44.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    Can you give us an example? Do you mean they do this when they are speaking Spanish or when they are speaking English? I have never come across it and I taught in Madrid for nearly two years.

    Edit: I'm confused too by your saying "first person plural". That is "we" so the reflexive would be "ourselves". Your title quotes only "himself" and "themselves".

    Please give us some example sentences to work with.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    Thank for answering emsr2d2.

    A group of persons was caught crossing the border between United States and Mexico, the judge asked to one of them:

    Q: What the name of the Coyote who crossed you?

    The person answered in Spanish to a certified court interpreter

    A: No sabemos (we don't know).

    The judge was only asking questions to this person, not to the goup of people, so he/she was supposed to answer ''no sé (I don't know)'', but he/she used a plural pronoun.

    The aforementioned interpreter posted the following thread in a forum which I'm a member too.

    «And while we're on the subject of regional preferences, can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about themselves? Ex: Q. The coyote who took you across the border, what was his name? A. No sabemos.»

    I wonder if she misused the reflesive object pronoun THEMSELVES ranther than used HIMSEL or HERSELF. I think it must be written as follows:


    «And while we're on the subject of regional preferences, can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about himself/herself? Ex: Q. The coyote who took you across the border, what was his name? A. No sabemos.»

    NOTE. As for THEMSELVES, I wrote in red the mistake I made.
    Last edited by The apprentice; 09-Nov-2014 at 23:13.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    I imagine she was answering on behalf of all the people in the group which crossed the border. She probably knew that no-one in the group knew the name of the "coyote" (I assume this is slang for a human trafficker or smuggler?) so she answered for all of them even though she was the only one being questioned at that point.

    If, in fact, this is a common usage of the first person singular in Spanish, you should post your question in the "Other Languages" section where a Spanish speaker might be able to help you. This is not a question about the English language.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #5

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    Dear emr2d2


    Reading your first sentence I just noticed you clearly understood what this is about, but what I really would like to know is in regard to English, it's not about the illegal immigrant's answer. I mean whether themselves is being properly used or himself/herself must be used instead in the following statement.

    «And while we're on the subject of regional preferences, can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about themselves? Ex: Q. The coyote who took you across the border, what was his name? A. No sabemos (we don't know).»


    I wonder if the above statement must be written as follows:

    «And while we're on the subject of regional preferences, can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about himself/herself? Ex: Q. The coyote who took you across the border, what was his name? A. No sabemos (we don't know).»

    Last edited by The apprentice; 10-Nov-2014 at 17:02.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    Yes, a coyote is someone who helps people cross the border illegally. And he helps them learn English too. (Not true. )


  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    Quote Originally Posted by The apprentice View Post
    Dear emr2d2


    Reading your first sentence I just noticed you clearly understood what this is about, but what I really would like to know is in regard to English, it's not about the ilegal immigrant's answer. I mean whether themselves is being properly used or himself/herself must be used instead in the following statement.

    «And while we're on the subject of regional preferences, can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about themselves? Ex: Q. The coyote who took you across the border, what was his name? A. No sabemos (we don't know).»


    I wonder if the above statement must be written as follows:

    «And while we're on the subject of regional preferences, can someone help me understand why some Spanish speakers use first person plural when they clearly are talking about himself/herself? Ex: Q. The coyote who took you across the border, what was his name? A. No sabemos (we don't know).»

    I see. I misunderstood your question. I would say "Why would someone use the first person plural when they are clearly talking about themselves?"
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: Must be either HIMSELF or THEMSELF?

    By using the plural, the speaker might be adding an extra layer of protection- it's not just that he or she didn't know, but that no one in the group knew.

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